Freeze-dried breast milk has become a popular alternative to fresh breast milk for mothers who cannot nurse their babies directly or those who want an emergency breast milk supply that they can leave anywhere with different caretakers or that they can bring out with them when out with their child. On top of its convenience, its long shelf-life of up to two to three years is another reason why many mothers choose to freeze dry their breast milk.
While freeze-dried breast milk offers several benefits that make it as popular as it is today, concerns about its safety exist as it is still a relatively new method of preserving and storing breast milk. Let’s look at the safety of freeze-dried breast milk and examine the potential risks and benefits associated with its use.
The big question: Is freeze-dried breast milk safe?
Even though water is removed during the freeze-drying process, the nutritional value of breast milk can still be preserved in freeze-dried breast milk. This creates a milk powder that is as powerful and nutritious as your original breast milk -- containing proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals essential for a baby's growth and development.
Through the delicate and thoughtful process, some studies have suggested that freeze-dried breast milk may have a slightly lower nutrient levels than fresh breast milk after the process. However, freeze-dried breast milk remains a valuable source of nutrition for babies, is completely safe and can be stored for up to two to three years without fear of spoiling.
Can I freeze-dry breast milk myself?
While it is technically possible to freeze-dry breast milk at home, it is not recommended. Freeze-drying is a complex and precise process requiring specialised equipment and knowledge to ensure the milk is safely and effectively preserved. Attempting to freeze-dry breast milk at home without proper equipment and training could result in the milk becoming contaminated or losing its nutritional value.
Even if you have access to a freeze-drying machine, you must follow strict guidelines and regulations for freeze-drying breast milk.
It is best to get your breast milk freeze-dried from a reputable company with strict quality control measures and a transparent manufacturing process. These include appropriate and thoughtful personal hygiene practices, design and construction of the facility, maintenance of the facility and equipment, facility sanitation, sanitary operations and process controls to ensure that your breast milk goes through the safe and delicate process properly.
Best practices for ensuring the safety of freeze-dried breast milk
When considering freeze-dried breast milk, it is important to ensure it is safe for your infant. Here are some best practices for ensuring the safety of freeze-dried breast milk.
Choose a reputable company
It is important to choose a company that is reputable and reliable. Look for a company with strict quality control measures and a transparent manufacturing process. To assess the company's reputation, check their website and social media pages for reviews and customer feedback. It is important that you thoroughly understand the workings behind the process -- where would your breast milk be handled, how would it be handled, and other safety precautions in place to ensure that it is handled safely and carefully.
Proper Handling & Storage
Once it’s passed over to you, proper handling and storage of freeze-dried breast milk at home are also critical to ensure its safety as well. It’s not that complicated! Simply follow the storage guidelines provided by the company, which typically involve storing the milk in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight and heat sources. Also, ensure that the storage container is airtight and clean. And of course, consume the freeze-dried breast milk within the recommended time frame before it expires, as the packaging indicates.
Monitoring Your Baby’s Health
Watch for any signs of illness or adverse reactions in your infant. If you suspect that your infant may be experiencing a health issue related to the use of freeze-dried breast milk, seek medical attention immediately. Report any issues or concerns to the company and appropriate health authorities.
For the nerdy mums,
Here are some research on the safety of freeze-dried breast milk
Several studies have been conducted on the safety of freeze-dried breast milk, but the research is still relatively limited. Here's what the recent researches tell us about the safety of freeze-dried breast milk:
One study conducted in 2016 found that freeze-drying breast milk did not significantly affect its nutritional content. The study analysed the macronutrient and micronutrient levels of freeze-dried breast milk compared to fresh breast milk and found no significant differences.
Another study analysed the microbial contamination of freeze-dried breast milk. The study found freeze-dried breast milk is an option that leads to no microbiological contamination, and also, no loss of its nutritious health benefits for infants -- specifically, its antibacterial properties have been found to remain uncompromised through the process.
How much does freeze-dried milk cost?
The cost of freeze-dried breast milk can vary depending on several factors, including the brand, the quantity purchased, and any additional services or features included in the purchase. While freeze-dried breast milk may seem a little more expensive compared to other feeding and milk preservation or storage options, it is a specialised and delicate process that requires a complex and precise manufacturing and handling process. Additionally, many parents may find that the benefits of freeze-dried breast milk, such as its long shelf life and convenience for travel, outweigh the cost.
When considering freeze-dried breast milk, you must research different companies, compare their facilities, safety procedures, certifications and processes, and read reviews from other parents to ensure a high-quality and safe collaboration with the chosen company.
Freeze-dried breast milk is a safe and viable option for parents who want to provide their babies with the benefits of breast milk but may not have access to fresh breast milk. While the research on the safety of freeze-dried breast milk is still relatively limited, the existing studies suggest that it is a safe and effective alternative to fresh breast milk.
It is important to note that freeze-dried breast milk, like any feeding option, has potential risks, such as contamination during processing or storage. However, these risks can be minimised by carefully selecting a reputable company with strict quality control measures and a transparent manufacturing process. Also, to ensure that you adhere to the storage and consumption instructions on the package when you get your freeze-dried breast milk.
Overall, freeze-dried breast milk is a convenient and practical choice for parents who want to ensure that their babies receive the benefits of breast milk, even when fresh breast milk is not readily available. By understanding the potential risks and benefits of freeze-dried breast milk and taking appropriate precautions, parents can feel confident using this feeding option for their babies.